Tutu's 80th honours
Posted on 24/10/2011
Archbishop Desmond Tutu with KCLSU Officers
King’s College London has honoured one of its best-known alumni and fellows, Archbishop Emeritus Desmond Tutu, with a reception and dinner to celebrate his 80th birthday.
The dinner at the College’s Strand Campus on Friday evening 21 October brought together former principals, colleagues, fellows, alumni and friends, including Archbishop of Canterbury Rowan Williams, to honour the Nobel Peace Laureate and former Archbishop of Cape Town, who took his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in theology at King’s in the 1960s.
‘I credit King’s with enabling me to have returned to South Africa with a far greater, proper self-confidence,’ the Archbishop said. ‘What an incredible joy and privilege it is to be back at my alma mater. Thank you for everything.’
Archbishop Tutu has retained close and affectionate relations with King’s, and the College’s alumni have voted him their favourite alumnus. He has taught at King’s as Professor in Post-Conflict Societies, and in 2010 he led a service at Westminster Abbey to celebrate the life and work of Florence Nightingale, founder of the direct ancestor of King’s current Florence Nightingale School of Nursing & Midwifery. A year ago he made a special video message to support the launch of the College’s £500 million World questions|King’s answers fundraising campaign.
Archbishop Tutu receives his King's hoodie
‘We are delighted that, although the Archbishop has formally retired from public life following his 80th birthday, he is still keen to maintain close links with his alma mater, as is shown by his enthusiasm to allow us to celebrate this milestone with him in this way,’ said the College’s Principal and President, Professor Sir Richard Trainor.
The Archbishop’s visit to the Strand Campus began with a stop at the recently-refurbished student nightclub, Tutu’s, which was named in his honour. In a brief ceremony Hannah Barlow, President of the King’s College London Students’ Union (KCLSU), presented Archbishop Tutu with a specially commissioned King’s hoodie with ‘Tutu 80’ emblazoned on the back.
At the reception attended by approximately 50 guests, KCLSU Vice President Simisola Smith presented Archbishop Tutu with the first-ever African Achievers Award on behalf of the Transforming Africa Initiative, a nongovernmental organisation based in Nigeria.
Earlier this month, the Revd Professor Richard Burridge, Dean of the College, represented both the Principal and the Archbishop of Canterbury at Archbishop Tutu’s 80th birthday celebrations in Cape Town, which included Bono speaking at the launch of the new biography of the Archbishop (to which the Dean had contributed), a special eucharist in St George’s Cathedral, and a debate via video web link between the Archbishop and the Dalai Lama, who had not been able to get a entry visa from the South African authorities.
The Dean commented, ‘At various points, the Archbishop stressed his relationship with Kings; throughout, we were moved to laughter and tears, anger and joy, silence and music, all to celebrate God’s beloved servant and child Desmond Tutu.’
For more information about King's, see our 'King's in Brief' page.